With a recent U.S. intelligence report concluding that Iran has likely halted its nuclear weapons program, the Democratic candidates wasted little time before attacking the Bush administration over its handling of the Iranian nuclear issue — and decrying the president’s response to the report.
The L.A. Times reports on what the candidates said on the matter during a national Public Radio debate:
Senator Hillary Clinton:
I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing’s changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. We do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect. I think that is an important lesson.
Senator Joseph Biden:
It was like watching a rerun of his statements on Iraq five years earlier. Iran is not a nuclear threat to the United States of America. Iran should be dealt with directly, with the rest of the world at our side. But we’ve made it more difficult now, because who is going to trust us?
What I believe is that this president, who, just a few weeks ago, was talking about World War III, he, the vice president, the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. We know that they’ve prepared contingency plans for a military attack.
Senator Barack Obama:
What I’ve been consistent about was that this saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq, a war I opposed, and that we needed to oppose George Bush again. We can’t keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, knowing the ways in which they manipulate intelligence.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich:
When people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric. What I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mindset that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.
According to Newsday, Edwards and Senator Chris Dodd both ripped Hillary for backing a resolution in Congress calling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
“This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we’re in a global war on terror,” Edwards said.
Dodd said that Clinton’s vote “specifically eliminated any option except the military one.”
Clinton, however, said that the resolution caused Iran to reduce its actions in Iraq. “”I think we’ve actually seen the positive effects of having labeled them a terrorist organization,” she said.
Dodd also said that he’s buying his kids Christmas toys from Iowa.
Everywhere we turned this week, presidential contenders were working to score public relations points with posturing on foreign policy.
Here’s the quick summary, along with some verdicts about whether they came out ahead or behind in the image game:
Barack Obama was branded as “irresponsible” by Pakistan’s foreign minister after saying that, as president, he might unilaterally decide to send troops to combat terrorism there. A week ago, the Illinois senator was fighting off bad foreign policy PR after announcing, at the CNN/You Tube debate, that he would commit to diplomatic meetings with the leaders of Iran and other rogue states. Which is it – too hard or too soft? Verdict: DOWN.
Mitt Romney cites Hezbollah as a model for “health diplomacy.” Point well taken, but still. Verdict: DOWN.
The GOP contenders – minus Iraq stalwart John McCain – begin to distance themselves from Bush on the war. Will they open themselves up to flip-flopping charges down the road? Clearly, they’re willing to risk it. Verdict: UP.
John Edwards gets out from under Clinton-Obama by talking tough against the Saudi arms deal. Verdict: UP.